Ranking the 10 most unforgettable hairstyles of the series
Ending an excruciating three-year hiatus, stranger things returned to The Upside Down (and Netflix) on May 27, 2022. With Season 4 slated as the show’s penultimate conclusion, each milestone looms large in the lives of the endless Hawkins high school kids. Home to more than ham radio and Demodogs, Hawkins, Indiana is as much a hotbed for old-world hairstyles as it is an homage to Derry, Maine.
As the characters went back and forth (and back), the narrative scope of their hairstyles traveled with them. With hairstyles ranging from the pages of Tiger Beat to the soft symmetry of a salad bowl, there’s an abundance of hairstyles to consider or challenge.
Mike Wheeler, Season 1 – The Sonny Bono
As much a helmet as a haircut, Sonny Bono’s signature hairstyle has haunted unsuspecting kids since the ’60s. With bangs a little shorter than the sides, Mike Wheeler’s first season is a prime example of a Sonny layout.
While Mike is certainly not the only member of the Hawkins community to sport mushroom-like bangs, he is the most prominent. As the sides of her hair gradually grow out from her side, her dedication to framing her face with hair follicles remains unwavering.
Kali Prasad, Season 2 – Punk Inspiration
Arriving like an avalanche in the open cold of Season 2’s “Chapter One: MADMAX,” Kali’s power and influence are immediate. Asymmetrical and combed like a tidal wave, her purple Pittsburgh punk aesthetic contrasts starkly with the milquetoast monotony of the Midwest.
Sisters in Lab abilities and history, Kali not only proves to be a conduit to Eleven’s memory, but also becomes her stylistic muse. Kali’s fearlessness in the undeniably polarizing episode, “The Lost Sister”, served not only to galvanize Eleven’s confidence, but also to shine a light on society’s willingness to castigate someone just for getting in trouble. Express.
Eleven, Season 2, Chapters 8 & 9 – The Smooth Back
Known more for its absence, Eleven’s post-pilgrimage hairstyle in Pittsburgh is one of the show’s most unforgettable unveilings. She hasn’t just come home. She returned as a towering presence ready to end what she had started.
Smooth backs always mean power and confidence. As Eleven reappeared in a black high-necked blazer and a new slick back, she left no doubt as to the heroine’s identity. Brooding and fully realized, her style was the icing on a narrative cake of self-discovery.
Dr. Alexei, Season 3 – Impact Curls
A Russian scientist/forced participant in interdimensional locksmithing, Dr. Alexei is an irreplaceable part of Season 3’s emotional impact. Usually wet, the scientist’s subtle curls and oversized teardrop frames combine to form the one of the most disarming looks of the series.
It is almost impossible for a man to fit a head of curls and look imposing. As an unwitting villain turned fugitive hero, Dr. Alexei’s childlike innocence and wonder about all things America have made him a stranger things fan favorite. Although his stay in Hawkins was not long, his gently abiding presence shines warmly in the hearts of viewers and Murray Bauman.
Will Byers, Season 3 – Will The Wise?
Will Byers’ hair is always tragic. Combining the worst elements of the pageboy and the bowl cut, Byers’ hair never really changes, but gradually gets worse.
Between losing part of his youth to The Upside Down and his friends developing crushes before having attractions, Will often finds himself displaced. In full mage attire and with Coconut Head’s exact haircut from Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide—Will realizes that his friends’ tastes have changed and that his path will be decidedly different. Wherever that takes it, hopefully it will include a haircut and less wizard clothing.
Dustin Henderson, Season 2, Chapter 9 – The Wedding Singer
Dustin made his spectacular entrance in 1984’s Hawkins High Snow Ball with a sprayed, teased hairstyle that would make Robbie Hart proud. Inspired by Steve Harrington’s inimitable hair styling excellence, his attempt to find a dance partner by becoming someone else doesn’t exactly pan out.
After being rejected and finding refuge on the bleachers, Nancy Wheeler notices her efforts and not only grants her a dance, but coaches her in a way that’s both cute and genuine. A fun nod to Dustin’s first pizza pass to Nancy in the series premiere, the life lesson Dustin learns through his hair reinvention is priceless.
Barbara Holland, Season 1 – The Church Secretary
A conservative and concerned friend of Nancy Wheeler, Barb’s heart was always in the right place and her haircut was always inspired by someone’s aunt in the church repertoire. With Foreigner’s “Waiting For A Girl Like You” in the background, the ’80s soundtrack bans Barb’s ominous fate.
A Demogorgon later, she is Hawkins’ last missing student confined to the back of a milk carton. With a head of hair ready for the cover of a regional family gospel album, Barb’s place as stranger thingsThe character with the longest haircut and shortest tenure was put on permanent display. By any measure, she deserved better.
Steve Harrington, Seasons 1-3 – Hair Icon
Steve deserves his flowers. Love at first locks, no one in Hawkins’ hair commands attention with the consistency or immediacy of Steve Harrington. Her hair story begins as a tribute to Ponyboy and evolves into the middle ground between Ken and Barbie.
From bully to big brother, Steve takes his pieces and earns his redemption with barely a hair moved. Inspiring his mentee, Dustin, to take stylistic risks — and bringing perhaps dozens of new clients to Family Video to see it — the Harrington Effect is very real and always well-conditioned.
Eleven, Season 1 – Buzz Buzz
Eleven’s buzzcut is one of the most iconic looks in television history. Shaved head, bloody nose and boxes of Eggos in hand; his arrival resolutely propels actress Millie Bobby Brown into the heart of popular culture.
A little girl positioned as the most powerful presence in a world of boys, men, and monsters, her baldness served as a statement. She wasn’t just a subversion or a test subject; his whole presence was a movement. Sometimes the hero the world needs is a heroine.
Billy Hargrove, Season 3 – Bring Back the Mule
On the thrilling Cars track, “Moving in Stereo”, Billy Hargrove launches into Season 3 of stranger things shirtless and quickly triggers a sexual awakening. Painted as Wendy Peffercorn to Hawkins’ bored suburban housewives, he takes the high school bully’s express train straight to the wrecker.
With a shimmering long mullet cascading over her trap muscles and Rick Rude’s shine galvanizing her allure, Hargrove’s hair-centric seduction is unmatched. It’s not just that he has a mule. Hawkins is a multi-mule town. He has THE mullet. His mule makes everyone forget all the mules they’ve seen before and all the mules they’ll see after. Billy Ray Cyrus walked so Billy Hargrove could run.
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